If Brazil burns what's left of the Amazon, why hold COP26?
reports on nature and technology
by Katie Singer
Our world hangs on a decision controlled by the Brazilian Supreme Court (STF). At this writing, the STF is reviewing a case filed by the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina. It would require Xokleng, Guarani and Kaingang Peoples to prove ownership of their ancestral territory in the Amazon Rainforest. If these Indigenous Peoples cannot prove ownership of their land, then Santa Catarina can remove them from it and allow leveling of the Amazon followed by further corporate developmentmining, drilling and industrial agriculture.
Indigenous people do not have documents that prove ownership of their land.1 Requiring proof of ownership from them is like requiring a tree (good for new-home framing, utility poles and/or smelting ores) to show proof of its existenceor get cut down.
Santa Catarina's government claims that the Xokleng People "invaded" the land in question in 2009. The Xokleng People claim that while agribusiness has diminished their territory, they have never left the area. Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro has said that relative to their population, Indigenous People control far too much land.
A lower court ruled that the Xokleng group did not occupy the land in Santa Catarina in 1988, when Brazil returned to democracy and its constitution was signed. If the STF overturns the lower court's ruling, certain lands in the Amazon "could cease to be productive."2
The STF's decision on the Santa Catarina case will set a precedent for Bill (PL) 490/2007, a law that would allow Brazil's federal government to remove Indigenous Peoples throughout the Amazon if they cannot prove ownership of their homeland.3
The Amazon Rainforestthe lungs of the Earthplays a crucial role in regulating global oxygen and carbon cycles. No other rainforest holds as many species. Industrial manufacturing, deforestation, cattle ranching and mining continue to alter the Amazon rainforest. After centuries of colonization and burning to make way for industrial development, this ecosystem now emits more CO2 than it absorbs, thereby endangering the entire planet.4
In 2007, Brazil voted in support of the United Nations' Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. PL 490 threatens respectful engagement with Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon. It threatens their continued existence. If they are removed, who will manage and protect the rainforest?
In mid-August, more than 6000 people from at least 173 tribes gathered in Brasilia to hear the STF's decision and to stand for their rights. The STF said that it would announce its decision on August 25, 2021. On August 25, the STF said that it would announce its decision "later." On August 26th, the Court said that it will interview 39 more people, and announce its decision on September 1rst. On September 1rst, the Court had not yet completed the 39 interviews.
First comes deforestation, then comes fire
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